Dr. Ferdinando Villa,
Research Professor in BC3.
Despite the wide recognition of the notion of ecosystem services as an instrument to support the fair accounting of natural capital and an important aid in informing sustainable development, the science to quantify their provision, usage and flow between natural producers and human beneficiaries has developed slowly. A large part of Dr. Villa's career has been dedicated to developing scientific instruments to overcome the natural inertia of the mainstream conceptualization and to promote a quantum leap in the science of ecosystem services, allowing the notion to become a sound base for policy.
One of the results of the research carried on by Dr. Villa and his team is the ARIES (ARtificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services) technology, which will be the focus of the seminar. Using a formal knowledge base and automated machine reasoning, ARIES studies all the data relevant to specific ecosystem service assessment questions in a given area and constructs a cause-and-effect, ad-hoc picture of how ecological and economic factors interact. The result of an ARIES user session is a dynamic environmental asset analysis that spatially quantifies the provision, use, and dynamics of flow of ecosystem services in the area. Users can explore effects of policy changes and external pressures (such as climate change) through a scenario analysis module. ARIES incorporates a valuation module to assess potential and realized economic values and a biodiversity module to estimate values of protected areas for human well-being and threats to protected species. An ARIES analysis includes documentation and references that document and justify operations, datasets, and models used to create it.